Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hay Harvesting

A week and a half ago, we harvested our first cut of hay. We would love to purchase our own hay tractor someday, but for now will have to suffice with one of our neighbors. He really does a great job cutting, raking and baling the hay and doesn't mind doing it early, which is great. Alpacas tend to like their hay leafy and green and will really pick through hay that has grown too long and is stalky. We found that they go through half as many bales of hay when the hay is a better quality (last winter we only went through75 high quality bales with a dozen alpacas). We had our hay cut early this year before it got to tall and stalky and before all the seed heads came out. This makes for some really great quality hay, but unfortunately, you don't get as much. The cow farmers who live around us think we are crazy for cutting our hay so early, but they are more interested in quantity for their cows and we are more interested in quality for the alpacas. The weather hasn't been great hay weather either, so that also contributed to our low yield. We were hoping to get at least 300 bales off of first cut, but only ended up with 206. Last year, we got 587 bales off of first cut, but we also had someone else cut it who waited until the end of June. Plus, the second cut hadn't been taken the year before, so there was probably a lot of dead grass in there. It made for a lot of hay, but a poor quality hay that the alpacas really picked through. We ended up selling most of it at the hay auction in Ravenna and bought better quality hay there (since our great quality second cut burned up in our barn fire last fall). Anyway, we split the 206 bales with the other farmer as payment for his services. So we have about 100 bales of hay and will probably need another 100 for this coming winter. Hopefully the weather cooperates and we can get a decent cut again in August. We plan to fertilize the field soon to promote more growth. Unfortunately I did not get any pictures of the hay being harvested this year...I actually slept through the whole thing while Noah and a few neighbors helped bale and pick the bales up off the field and stack them in the barn. My only excuse is that I was 5 1/2 months pregnant, tired and didn't need to be lifting bales of hay anyway. Oh well...I will try to get pics of second cut.

No comments: